‘NATO could serve a useful global purpose - without weapons’
RT: NATO was created for countering the Soviet Union and, later also the Warsaw Pact states. Now that the Soviet Union is in the past is there still need for such a block?
Jan Oberg: Well, if NATO could just historically have stopped with what was its task it would maybe have been useful at least up to 1989. But when NATO countries or NATO as an alliance began to do things outside its own member states’ territory, such as the destruction of Serbia, it is in my view gone. It is not a meaningful organization for collective defense or whatever when you go outside your own borders and your own mandate.
Secondly, in 1989, when the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union disappeared, the only reasonable thing would have been to close down NATO or use the organization for something else. I have always had a dream to see NATO as a new humanitarian organization, where we could use the technology, the communication, the highly educated people, and I am sure a lot of NATO people would like to do good for the world. And we need desperately somebody who can do a transport for earthquake situations and things like that. So NATO could be useful without weapons.
RT: NATO is getting bigger and bigger with several countries including Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Georgia willing to join. Do you think these constant expansions make the block stronger?
JO: …I don’t see why NATO is boasting about expanding itself. You know what happens to all big organizations over time – they lose purpose. They were created for one purpose, the world changes and then they are becoming irrelevant.
Secondly, when you get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and quantity in itself is a merit, things will at some point be overextended: too many members; too many conflicts internally; too many long transport distances. You can look at the American empire, the US as an empire – it will go the same way as a Soviet Union - trying to extend itself all the time. Overextension means the beginning of death. And I think NATO should have kept to its original role, or have closed down itself in 1989, when the threat disappeared completely.
You may remember, at least I do and my generation does, that there was an advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev, who said: “We’re going to do a terrible thing to you and the West; we’re going to deprive you of an enemy!” And I think that is spot on even today. The Western world cannot live without a picture, an image of somebody to be adverse to… I am afraid the West is creating these enemies, or images of enemies. The reality is different today: We need to cooperate and have friends; we should have policies that make other people friendly to us instead of bullying everybody and then expect them to be kind to us.
RT: The goal of NATO was cited back in 1949 as "keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Do you think at least some of these goals are still up to date for NATO?
JO: … We are living in a period, in which new thinking, new ways of doing old things, new ways of doing new things, thinking differently from what we did 20 years ago – is what will make people win. The West is going to lose because we sit in some kind of banal, militaristic high-tech philosophy that has served us well for some time, but doesn’t serve us or the world anymore…
Look at the Chinese; they are building a Silk Road and Silk Belt instead with a huge vision of the new world emerging. What are we [West] doing? We are running around bombing whenever there is somebody we don’t like and we create enemies. This whole militarization - and I might add: whether it’s Russian, or Chinese, or NATO’s, or God knows what – all this belongs to the past. We cannot solve humanity’s problems with bombing each other with using nuclear weapons. Scrub it all and let’s make a better world.
RT: How do you think people in many non-member states see the alliance given its military campaigns and eastward expansion? Do they consider NATO an aggressor?
JO: It will look like aggressor in the eyes of other people, including Russia, including the Middle East. And that is the boomerang that is coming back with a totally stupid attempt to get Ukraine into the EU, and saying “either… or”, instead of saying: “You can be members of both of East and West, you can be neutral.” Also potentially in the long run getting it into NATO - that was a very provocative step as seen by Moscow…
Unfortunately, there is kind of autistic thinking in the West that people love us no matter what we do. And that is what is coming back now with hatred, with terrorism, and most sad of all - all the poor victims of these policies are now coming and asking for our care. They are coming to the aggressor, if you will, in Europe and asking for our protection. And we’re sending them all to Turkey, and paying Turkey for taking it over. I am sorry, but all this is not an indications, in my view, of being a strong, proud civilization; it is indicators of going down very rapidly. And that is unfortunate because we had such a good opportunity to create a better world after the Cold War.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.